June 24, 2022 | Amanda Greenhoe

A woman in glasses and a lab coat smiles and looks straight ahead.

Calvin professor of nursing Adejoke Ayoola, PhD, RN, FAAN has been named as the inaugural dean of the Calvin University School of Health.

Calvin University has appointed Adejoke Bolanle Ayoola as the founding dean of its School of Health.

Ayoola stood out among the high caliber candidates reviewed by the search committee—a team which included Provost Noah Toly and representatives from each department and program in the School of Health.

Ayoola is nationally and globally recognized as an experienced practitioner, educator, researcher, and administrator. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, and earned her PhD from Michigan State University. Ayoola has been a member of Calvin’s faculty since 2007, contributing to both the nursing and public health programs and most recently chairing the nursing department.

“Dr. Ayoola not only met but also clearly excelled in the critical leadership requirements established by the committee,” said Toly. “She has a vibrant Christian faith, possesses a deep understanding of the Reformed tradition, models a prayerful life, and demonstrates a commitment to joyful integration of faith and learning.”

Accomplished thought leader and scholar

Ayoola’s academic influence runs deep, as she has contributed to her field with research in the areas of community based nursing, and maternal and infant health. Since completing her PhD, Ayoola has earned several awards and distinctions recognizing her accomplishments in the health field.

Notably, from 2012–2015, Ayoola served as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar. The program, involving intensive leadership training, was created to inspire the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing. Five years later, Ayoola was inducted into the 2020 Class of Fellows of the American Academy of Nursing.

Ayoola is a member of the American Association of Nurses, the Honors Society of Nursing, Sigma International, and the Midwest Nursing Research Society; and she currently serves as a reviewer, associate editor or on the editorial board of 12 scholarly publications.

Guided by God

For Ayoola, the field of health has always been a passion, and it is a passion that is rooted in her faith.

“I am motivated to act when I see people or members of my community hurting —physically, emotionally, and spiritually— and when the vulnerable population experience health challenges,” she said. “I see health as an important part of what God wants for us.”

Ayoola believes that it is God who equipped her with the skills needed for this position, not only through her academic experiences, but also through her community work such as leading the African Ladies Fellowship of the African Resource Center in Grand Rapids and serving as an elder in her home church, Brookside CRC.

Carrying on Calvin’s mission

“Dr. Ayoola is deeply committed to the mission and vision of Calvin University,” said Kerrie Berends, kinesiology department co-chair and professor, and member of the search committee.

Ayoola has demonstrated this commitment by playing an integral role at Calvin, participating herself in a search committee for the dean of the School of Business, founding H.E.A.L.T.H. Camp at the university, and serving on the task force that articulated a vision for Calvin’s university structure—to name just a few contributions during her 15 years of service. Former advisees, research assistants, and research fellows recognize Ayoola for her commitment to their learning and post-graduate success.

For Ayoola, this next vocational step was confirmed by God’s guidance through prayer. She believes her vocation also includes preparing others well for work in the field.

“My vision is also for the experience in the School of Health to be transformative and for our future health professionals to be well-prepared in their calling to serve as great advocates for their patients,” she said.

Building on collaboration and partnerships

Beginning July 1 Ayoola will lead the School, serving approximately 600 undergraduate and over 75 graduate students studying directly in health-related programs, and dozens of other students in pre-professional tracks.

While the School is already involved in many community partnerships and collaborative scholarship, with Ayoola at the helm, colleagues say it is poised to broaden its impact.

“Dr. Ayoola has prioritized interprofessional collaboration among our departments, West Michigan communities, and globally,” said Berends. “It’s exciting and energizing to anticipate the impact that faculty and students will have as we expand our reach.”

Ayoola is ready for the challenge.

“I love creatively designing new programs in collaboration with people and in response to identified needs,” she said. “The idea of serving as a founding dean of the School of Health is exciting because it will provide me with opportunities to work with stakeholders to shape the School of Health’s programs.”

Advisory Council

A growing list of accomplished health-related professionals from around the world will serve as advisers to Ayoola and other leaders in the School of Health. Here's the current list:

Yaw Bediako, PhD
CEO of
Yemaachi Biotech
Accra, Ghana

Steve Triezenberg, PhD
President and Dean of
Van Andel Institute Graduate School
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Chris Holstege, MD
Professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics
for University of Virginia School of Medicine
Charlottesville, Virginia

Chikwe Ihekweazu, MBBS, MPH
Assistant Director General of World
Health Organization
Berlin, Germany

Bethany Campbell Skillen, MPA, BSN
Manager of Trinity Health Geriatrics
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Douglas Diekema, MD, MPH
Attending Physician and Director of Education for
Trueman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics, University of Washington
Seattle, Washington

Jeremy Wingard, MD
Glaucoma Surgeon and Vice President of
Wheaton Eye Clinic
Wheaton, Illinois

Khan Nedd, MD
CEO of Answer Health;
President of Infusion Specialists
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Jon Tilburt, MD, MPH
Internist and Professor of Medicine at
Mayo Clinic
Phoenix, Arizona

Nneka Mobisson, MD, MBA, MPH
Co-founder and CEO of
Johannesburg, South Africa

David Musch, PhD, MPH
Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science; Professor of Epidemiology at
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Kevin den Dulk, PhD
Associate Provost for
Calvin University
Grand Rapids, Michigan

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